FIELD INTELLIGENCE: Smart Processes, Solutions & Strategies
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major upheavals in manufacturing processes to avoid contamination while keeping supply chains intact.
One of the most vulnerable areas is in shift-to-shift handovers, a critical step in meeting customer requirements, as well as health, safety and regulatory considerations. Remote workers at every level are having to rely on critical human-to-human communication and collaboration without personal contact.
To meet the challenges of what may become the “new normal,” manufacturing operations need to make the digitization of communications processes across shifts a top priority.
Roche Pharma did just that: Just prior to the onset of the pandemic, it deployed interactive shift-hand-over software to manage team communication in production operations.
During the disruption COVID-19 caused, the cancer-battling company instituted remote monitoring and handovers.
“We have a lot of feedback from across our production site that Eschbach’s digital communication solution has become a powerful platform for providing information to all departments and to all shifts,” said Mathias Gerchel, a manufacturing technician at Roche Pharma. “We have transitioned from multiple tools and applications to just the one solution, making communication much easier. This has allowed us to feel more confident and comfortable during this crisis.”
Manufacturers already using the digital communication solution were able to respond quickly after the lockdown, transitioning more easily to the new normal by lowering shift-to-shift contact and enabling employees to work remotely.
Outgoing teams are connected virtually to the incoming teams and conduct digital handovers with ease.
Engineers from their home offices can read the notations and observations, as well as see supporting photos or videos.
During shift runs, outside operators can record observations in real time via mobile devices and share them with the board operators and their supervisors, utilizing an all-in-one contiguous communication platform—with no human contact.
Roche is using the solution at multiple sites—normally with five shift teams involved at each plant. It takes about six weeks to configure the system, train the teams and move to production.
The flexibility of the solution lets Roche system administrators easily adapt to local needs—without the need for customization.
While a global event like COVID-19 may be an extraordinary case, there is always the potential for some localized crisis to occur.And that means companies always need to be agile, resilient and engaging with speed and clarity.
By adapting to the new normal ushered in by the pandemic, operations can be more efficient than ever before.
A uniform approach in shift-to-shift communication supports the data gathering and collection of human context to enable machine learning. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more ingrained and deeper into and across businesses and their operations, AI can only reach its full potential if human intelligence is incorporated. This is especially true in the process industry where hazardous and complex processes are operated by highly skilled and experienced experts.
When managed correctly, the digitization of communications processes across shifts can provide the basis for building operational capital, increased agility and stronger business resilience.